Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sweet Poppy's 2nd Birthday

It began so prettily
Buzz opened the presents, dirty face and all
Mum didn't bake the cake (that one will be at the party)
You call that a knife?....
Playing with presents

Such a joy at two, can't wait to see what three brings. So lucky to be her Mum....

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Poppy Mae for tomorrow

I thought I'd give you a sneak peek at what will be hitting inboxes of all our friends & family tomorrow morning. I can't believe she's almost 2! Where did that time go? And why do I still weigh the same as 3 days post-partum?! *Note to self: stop eating chocolate and be a size 8 for 3rd Birthday photos* :)

Monday, May 26, 2008

It's the Root of all Evil...

But a necessary one. Money is harder and harder fought in today's climate. Fuel prices, interest rate rises - it all makes for a crunch that a lot of us have yet to experience in our own homes. The nineties mortgage crunch is looming in our memories. I have vague recollections of it being a "tough time" but now I am seeing it with my own adult perspective.

We've had a rough fortnight with car services and unexpected dentist bills that blew my budget out of the water. Now I am having to look at tightening our belts to get us back in the black. I've come up with some ideas to do that, and I thought I would share? Some of these I do anyway, but some are new or reintroduced ideas to save some money.

$ Check out the local produce markets. We went to the Rocklea Markets and found not only cheaper but much better quality produce than the local supermarket. There was a wholesale butcher that had bulk lots of meat for cheaper prices. I got 2 kilos of shortcut rindless bacon for $10. I normally pay $8.95 for 750gms!

$ Find factory food outlets. We all love a clothes factory outlet bargain - so why not food? At Rocklea there is a Grocery discount store. It's filled with amazing bargains. Some of it is close to its Best Before Date but if you're shopping on a fortnightly basis you could incorporate those dates. I got Bocconcini Cheese for 99c and I normally pay $4.99. It's a good way to have a few 'nice' things included in the cupboard without blowing out the food budget.

$ We have looked at the Golden Circle and Sara Lee outlets too. Beware of false economy though - if you don't normally have Chocolate Bavarian on your shopping list, there's no point buying 10 to put in the freezer just because you're saving 50% is there? But if you were having a party or having people come to stay they would be great for cheap drinks, cakes and tinned fruit.

$ Meal plan,meal plan, meal plan. I can't stress how much time, effort and money it saves me to have each meal planned. It also helps me overcome the "don't know what to cook- can't be bothered thinking-buy takeaway" trap! I try to plan in some take-away type meals: spring rolls & dumplings with fried rice for a Chinese night or curry with puppodums and chutneys for an Indian. It's sometimes the things that accompany a meal that take it out of the boring home cooked feel and make it something special. It also helps create well rounded nutritious menus.

$ If I'm making something that would make great leftovers for lunch (eg: lasagne) I make dessert on that night to make it go further. Speaking of making it go further, I have changed things like instead of using my square dish and having a 6-layer lasagne, I use a bigger, rectangular dish and spread it out to 4 layers giving me more yield. Adding more veggies and less meat cuts down on money too. Also, reusing leftovers in a productive tasty way saves money. I buy a slightly bigger roast lamb so that we can get a shepherds pie out of it as well.

$ The other great thing about meal plan is I can usually make my fortnightly plan go one or two days further as we'll have a 'soup and rolls' or 'eggs on toast' meal in there. So I can choose to carry that over to next fortnight's plans or wait off shopping a day or two. Sometimes I try to go a few days over to eat out the cupboard a bit more. It gives flexibility for when we're having a really lean fortnight.

$ Buy up on things like washing powder, toothpaste or toilet paper but keep it in the original budget. It's all about creating a buffer to smooth out the differences when we're going through a lean time. With things like Shampoos, creams and deodorants; again, be creative. Avon has roll-on deodorants for $1.49 and shampoos for $1.79 some months, and you'll never get it cheaper at the supermarkets. I also found gorgeous handmade soap at Rocklea for $2 a bar and not only will they will last longer than any store bought variety and smell glorious, we keep the money in the community.

I know I probably sound like we're on the bones of our bums - we're not at all, in fact I think seeing as I've been a SAHM for 6 years, we've done very well on a single income! But I like to think it's my job to be as economical as possible to make sure we can have some luxuries to life, and I enjoy the challenge! I will be back with my next fortnight's meal plan soon.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Seperation Anxiety

Really Old Photo but oh, so cute!

What is it with my son lately? He is desperately attached to Dad. Every morning starts with "Where's Daddy?" to which I answer "at work" (again) which ends in tears. If the slightest thing goes wrong, Cammie cries for his Dad. It's reached its pinnacle today:

Cam: "Where's Daddy?"
Me: "On the toilet"
Cam: "I'll go too!"
Me: "No mate, I'm sure he wants to be alone for a minute"
Cam: "I love my Dad and his stinky Poo"

Oh. My. Gosh! I wonder if it's got something to do with him just finishing 6 weeks away. I can't bear to think what is going to happen when he goes away for a month with no coming home on weekends, in the next couple of weeks... Pretty cute though :)

We're busy sorting through the shed. I have 3 tea chests ready for the Salvation Army of nothing but children's clothes and I have been gushing over tiny outfits and lots of "remember when Jaynie/Cam/Poppy wore this?!" Better get back to it or Steven will be in here cracking the whip...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


We got really disappointing news today. My DH had taken his position up here with the likelihood (unwritten promise) of an overseas posting for us next year. We found out today that it's not happening. *sigh*. My poor husband. He's worked so hard for it not have gone in his favour. I only hope he forgoes this for an even better opportunity.

He's such a hard working man, he does everything for his family and he's our hero. It does make me nostalgic for reasonably straight forward private enterprise though! We'll be waiting tonight with open arms and something yummy for dinner. As he said, c'est la vie, we have each other and that's all that matters. He rocks.

Well, the sewing machine waits for no woman - I'd better get this floor clean before rest time so I can actually get some done!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


That's one of the sometimes few blessings of our nomadic, defence force life. I have reached out to the cyber World and made some of the most amazing friends you could hope for.
Thank you for all your comments. They mean the World. I have felt so bolstered and supported this week. I appreciate it. Immensely...

On the craft front, I have made a couple of pairs of PJ pants in the last couple of days and I am preparing to border the Poppy Quilt. I am not sure on the fabric though? Perhaps I will just sew-for-it and see what transpires.

I also cooked a Sour Cream and Apple Pie after a post at Inside a Black Apple, so that's cooling for dessert after a warming Lamb Roast for dinner. Yum. I hope to have a finished product pic that looks as yummy! The internet is bad for my waistline.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

He's Really Gone... Never Coming Back

We're into the downward gallop to Darcy's 5th Birthday and two days later, his 5th Angelday. 15 days ago it was "in a bit over a month" and now it's "less than a month". I still get the build-up. Even five years on. I start feeling anxious for "no good reason" and just have a disquiet in my soul that I can't shake.

I didn't even put it down to Darcy this last week, even though blessed days like Mothers Day being reminders that I don't have him here to give me a scribbled card and sloppy kiss. I have just felt close to tears and more 'less than whole' than usual.

I was playing with some photos to make a blown-up copy for Steven and when I did the above photo - it hit me. "He's never coming back." Of course I know this. I've always known it. From the moment we got the news I knew this was it. Forever (well, until I die). But you tend to stuff that knowledge deep in the depths and get on with it. But last night as I was staring at this photo, that, when put into Sepia took the unwell tone from his skin and highlighted all the newborny crinkles and pudginess I felt those words in my soul. I am destined to walk this life without him. Until I die. It's such a long time! And I realise that I am grieving, winding myself up to his Birthday. Almost no less intensely than his first. In the early days you count the hours since he died, then the days, then the weeks as they slowy eek out to months and before you know it - it's years. Five years. What have I done in five years? 2 more beautiful children to fill my arms. Moved 3 times, bought 2 cars, lived almost 60 months, got up 1808 mornings without him. But all that pales into significance compared to F.O.R.E.V.E.R...

I am tired. I have come so far in my grief journey, I am rebuilt to be more whole than I ever imagined possible. But I am still so raw, so pained and so grieved. I accept it, but it still hurts.

Monday, May 12, 2008

I had the nicest Mothers Day! I was awoken at an ungodly hour of 5:45am with snuggles, kisses and jumps. The children had been shopping with Steven and bought me my very first china teacup and saucer and a gorgeous scented candle from Dusk. Anna-Jayne had made me a card and bookmark at school which made me cry. She’s so lovely that now she realizes what these special days mean – the true meaning. Not the “Hallmark, must buy four hundred dollar diamond earring” Mothers Day – the “you are very special and here’s a day to tell you how awesome you are and we appreciate everything you do” one.

The kids then gave my Mum (Nana) a new sewing kit as her old one was washed away by Cyclone Larry, and some chocolate and tea. It was very well received.

Then we gussied ourselves up and I took her to High Tea at High Societea in Clayfield. We had champagne, tea, nibbles and lovely conversation. It was so nice to spend the morning with my Mum, she’s been overseas for almost 4 years and has just returned home to settle North of Brisbane. So it’s the first Mother’s Day together for many years.

We finished our morning with a quick jaunt to Spotlight where I managed to snaffle a quilt cover for $20! It was not in a packet and without any pillowslips. When I asked a salesgirl if they had any more, she said she didn’t think there were any left as it was a Private Collection brand. While she went off to see if she could find any packaging , I mosied over to where all the Private Collection quilt covers were and there wasn’t a single one under $150! I just grabbed a couple of plain pillowslips and now my bed feels like a 5-star resort. Especially seeing as we had our new mattress delivered this morning! It is so luxurious – our ol’ girl had served us well for almost eleven years but it was time to move on. It wasn’t her, it was us, honest

I finished off the afternoon with a walk to the park and a nice home cooked meal and that’ll be Mothers day for another year. Although, between you and I: don’t tell anyone, but around here – it’s Mothers day everyday. ;)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Z Z Top so far....

So here is the cut, sewn, cut, sewn, sewn, sewn top. In that order. Now I have to think about a border to make it up to single bed size, as you can see I come up slightly small. Please excuse the photos, they were taken on my mobile as my camera battery is flat and I couldn't wait! I'd love to hear from you fab quilters any ideas on bordering this. I was thinking either: a small floral print taken from the range, a strip border or charm squares? I am cautious not to make it look too busy or blended but I don't want to stuff it up! Argh.... Any ideas would be gratefully accepted.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Shepherds Pie

I love using leftovers to make another completely awesome meal. There's something so satisfying about using every last scrap in a tasty way. It must appeal to the scrooge in me.

Approx 500gms left over roast lamb, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 large-ish carrot, diced
400gm tin tomatoes
Approx. 2 cups stock
Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper
1-2 Tbl Gravy Powder (or left over gravy?)
6-7 potatoes, peeled & cubed
splash of Milk
30gms butter
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 190ÂșC.

Cut vegetables. Put salted water onto boil. Once boiling add potatoes and boil until soft whilst making the meat part.

Heat a bit of oil in a frypan, add onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Sweat until translucent.

While that's happening, dice your lamb. Add and give it a good stir. Add tin tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, gravy powder and seasonings and then add enough stock to give a nice sauce.

Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes to incorporate all the flavours and thicken.

Mash potatoes with butter, milk and a little pepper until nice and fluffy.

Place meat mixture into a baking dish, top with mashed potato and finally cheese.

Bake in the oven until the cheese is all melted and bubbly (approximately 20 minutes)

I've been known to add some left over roast vegetables to the mix. My kids love it with a crispy salad and crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

Getting there.....

I've sewn all the nine patches. Now the tricky placement issues begin. I think it will be a picnic on the lounge room floor for dinner so I can keep it on the table and play around! I'm worried I should have left it as a plain nine patch and now it looks confused?

I have a recipe to put up tonight too. I am not good at quilt or food photos, it must take more skills than I have. I never see toes in the photos in the magazines.... ;)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Because I feel that in the heavens above

The angels, whispering one to another,
Can find among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of "Mother"
- Edgar Allen Poe

I found this lovely verse to put inside my mother's day cards this year, an excerpt from the poem To My Mother by Edgar Allen Poe. I just had to share in case anyone was looking for inspiration in their card writing. I like to use highly emotive little quotes and poems to cover my lack of writing finesse. ;)

Stoopid Blogger is making all my words Italic, sorry about that.

Poppy Quilt

I've been slowly working on Poppy's Disappearing nine patch quilt. The nine patches are all done, now to be a houdini and disappear them! I am sticking with a pattern for the disappearing pieces as I don't trust my creative juices all that much. So hopefully I should be able to pull it off!

The little ones and I headed to the shop to finish our Mother's Day shopping. I am not a huge believer in buying to say thanks for being a great Mum, it's more the thought that goes into the 'perfect' gift.

I am taking my Mum to High Tea and she is getting a sewing kit as she moves into her new house on Poppy's Birthday.

For my awesome MIL Judie, I am sending a pamper kit: hand cream, nice tea, shortbread to have with it, some choccies and a brand spanking new tea cup and snack tray: hand picked by Master Cameron.

For my step-mum Marsha (who isn't my step-mum any more but I love her even more for it ;) ) a trip down memory lane: Father of the Bride DVD, which we have spent many nights and tears over, a new coffee mug (again chosen by Cameron), chocolate and her all time favourite Kingston biscuits.

I am hoping they will bring a smile and the knowledge that I appreciate having these fabulous "mothers" in my life. Each one of them is unique and I have learnt so much about life, love and parenting from them.